Veiled PAGE

Email:   vulcan@anarchocat.com

27

Jenny and the Meiser family :

Selima and I worked on our machines. I was already working on my modifications, but I was happy when Selima took care of something that I didn't make any gross mistakes. I was pleased with my new job. Here I learned to sew at the machine and by hand. Selima said she still wanted to teach me crocheting, knitting, lace making, and exquisite embroidery and she showed me videos on YouPube showing elaborately styled hijab. Here I first became aware of the whole range of tailoring. Until I would fit in my job, she says, I would probably need two years. The core business was, of course, the sewing and here I honestly tried to earn my money in kind. Selima gave me various scraps of fabric to practice on, including a large salmon satin cloth. It was too good for me to use it only for training purposes. I wanted to sew something beautiful out of it when I had learned more. Otherwise, with Selina's help, I had modified my entire stock of clothes into fitting Muslim garments. So I only wore Islamic right clothes, and without hijab, I felt almost naked. Praying the prayers with her had become something quite reasonable for me. Murad presented me with a German Koran.

"Here you have a Koran in German, which you can read at home in the evening. If you want to learn how to read the original, I would be happy to teach you on Fridays," he said.

"Then you want to teach me Arabic? Right?" I asked.

"Exactly! I'll turn you and your 'mothers' into real Muslimahs." My 'mothers', Lizzy my bodily one and Sandra my support, how much I loved them nevertheless. And they had changed since the visit to the mosque. Lizzy had become calmer and less anxious. She seemed to accept her illness more, and she took her fate. That she would soon cure under unforeseen circumstances was not yet apparent to all of us at that time. Sandra had become quieter. Now she no longer poured herself into political statements at every trifle and instead of her cynicism, she tended to make humorous interjections. All in all, there was much more laughter at home. Yesterday we had visits from Ali and Aleyna Meiser and their daughter Samira. Ali talked to my 'mothers' while Aleyna was interested in the 'young patriots'. She told me about her youth work in the madrasah, and we both recognised many shared interests of both organisations. I gave her some contact addresses, and she would organise a joint meeting. Then she joined the adults, and I had time to make friends with Samira. Samira had heard that I was learning to tailor and I showed her some of my work. She asked,

"Listen, the woman who was with you in the madrasah wore a strange veil."

"A ruband," I said. "A Turkish version of the Afghan burqa. Looks great, doesn't it?"

"Yes, the embroidery around the eyes looks crazy good. If I'm honest, I thought you might have one to try," Samira said.

United by a RuBand:

Jenny + Samira

I texted Selima: "Hello Selima, do you have some time for my friend Samira and me?"

"But surely, dear, come over." We told our people that we were going to the Arslan to introduce Samira to Selima and set off. Selima was already waiting for us at the back entrance. As always beautiful with a white ruband and pink calyxes above the eyes.

"Come in," she said and led us into the women's wing.

"I briefly met Aleyna in the Madrasa. And you are her daughter?"

"Stepdaughter! My true mother rejected my father, but I don't like to talk about myself, but the reason for my visit is curiosity. I want to try your veils."

"These veils are called Ruband and believing Muslimahs wear them in the part of Turkey where Murad comes from," I explained a little wisely. She went to a closet and brought us some specimens.

"I think Jenny would like to try some, too," Samira said with a knowing smile to Selima.

"Always close! Don't let me stop you, girls! Meanwhile, I go to make tea for us," Selima said and disappeared. Samira took a dark green ruband. The eyes were white, drop-shaped embroideries decorated with a golden border.

"Wow, you look strong!" I said enthusiastically and grabbed the light blue one with the purple plant calyx.

"Fantastic how you have changed. Jenny disappeared in one footstep and turned into a beautiful Muslimah." Samira breathed admiringly. Our vision was minimal. In the usually lit room, everything was more than a meter away blurred, and we got pretty warm. But we looked at each other in the mirror and couldn't get enough of ourselves, and we found ourselves beautiful. Until Selima came with the tea, we had tried some other Ruband but came back to the first ones.

"Mashallah! I have two honourable, decent Muslimahs to visit. What an honour!", Selima said laughing as she served us tea with biscuits.

"Wait, I'll put on my ruband and show you how to drink tea and eat cookies with it!" After she put on her ruband, she put her left arm under the veil and lifted it slightly until she could lead her tea glass to her mouth. Then she drank. The first time I tried, without eye contact, I quickly lost my orientation, but I managed without spilling. After that, it went better and better. So we three sat deeply veiled together and told each other our stories. We forgot the time. Meanwhile, Lizzy contacted Murad and asked if she could show up with her visit to collect the girls, and she still had tons of cake to spare which she would like to bring along. Murad shouted through the closed door:

"Jenny, your 'mothers' are coming with their visit to pick you up" and disappeared. "I think I'll make tea again," Selima said and disappeared.

"I think your girlfriend is great! I loved her directly," Samira said.

"Girlfriend and boss! I am so happy to be allowed to work here. I love Murad like a daughter loves her father". I told her.

"Your families are waiting for you in the living room. There I serve the tea. So come with me." Selima shouted to us. We had forgotten entirely our Ruband, and when we entered the living room, we looked into questioning faces.

"Hello, it's us! Samira said with the presence of mind. "We tried Selimas Ruband and forgot to give her back. Hopefully, we didn't shock you too much?"

"Hi! it's Jenny!" and raised my hand. Lizzy was angry and said:

"Are you crazy, I can still tolerate your headscarves, but let's get the veils off!"

"Mama, calm down! We were just curious and a bit vain. Please, don't always take everything so seriously." I said, but I did not take off my Ruband. Sandra and Genna came closer to look deeper at the Ruband.

"Look how elaborate and noble these veils are, Lizzy." Lizzy came closer and calmed down. In the past, she would have stepped into it and wouldn't have stopped whining. She had changed a lot to her advantage.

"You're right, and they are lovely. But my child, do you see anything at all and can you get enough air?" It was love that always worried about my well-being.

"Mama, everything's fine! When we go, I'll take off the ruband, okay?" We sat together for another hour and in the presence of Ali and Murad, I felt very comfortable covered with Ruband. Deep down I knew that wearing a Ruband was just the thing for me. I still have this salmon-coloured cloth, that should become my first self-made Ruband. Then came the time of departure and we went back to the women's wing. With a heavy heart, we discarded our Ruband. Samira and I thanked Selima and pressed her until her air was gone. My 'mothers' and I accompanied the Meiser family to their car, and we departed warmly. Next Friday we will come back to the mosque for Friday prayer and then we will meet again in the madrasah. It was a very long day, especially for my disabled mother, and we were dog-tired. I got ready for the night and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.